SIL: Tell us about Rose. What is the product?
KM: Rose is a technology driven mental health company simplifying the way patients experiencing stress, depression, and anxiety seek and receive care. We leverage artificial intelligence to detect a user’s symptoms and provide a targeted, tailored approach to care. Our method allows us to more efficiently match a patient to a therapist, and, once the patient is under care, create an engaged relationship to sustain their progress. We offer our services to institutional clients to help their employees manage all aspects of their mental health in a safe, confidential manner.
SIL: Why is this such an important problem to tackle?
KM: Mental healthcare is fragmented and impinged by stigma, access barriers, and infrastructure challenges that make accessing care difficult. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental health challenge in a given year, and as many as 45% of mental health cases go untreated. This translates into a cost of $188 billion spent each year in direct mental health and substance abuse expenditures. On college campuses alone, there were about 1,100 suicides among students in the United States last year and almost 24,000 attempts. There is a clear need to address mental health.
SIL: Why did you decide to start this? Where did the idea come from?
KM: I spent 7 years working in roles as a healthcare investment banker and as an M&A corporate development professional. After working about 80–100 hours each week during that time, I finally burned out. It was then that I experienced mental healthcare for the first time, and I was blown away by the inefficiencies in finding care and the low quality of the care itself. I decided to do something about it. I’m bringing insight from an entrepreneur’s perspective, an investor’s perspective, and — most importantly — a patient’s perspective to transform the way mental healthcare is delivered.
SIL: How does Rose differentiate itself from other mental health companies?
KM: Rose focuses on an evidence-based approach to mental health. Current mobile mental health apps are either not backed by the research or take a siloed, non-systems-based approach. Further, Rose does not aim to replace therapy or any single aspect of the mental healthcare process, but rather acts as a comprehensive solution to mental healthcare that encompasses a variety of treatment processes. Other companies only focus on providing one solution, such as journaling, a chatbot, or providing self-help articles, while Rose serves needs throughout the entire continuum of care. Additionally, we have a solid team that includes former healthcare investment bankers, mental health clinicians at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and machine learning experts to build out the platform. All of us are dedicated to making a positive difference in mental healthcare.
SIL: What progress have you made so far with Rose?
KM: We have developed a minimal viable product (MVP) and have been working on planning, testing, and evaluating the application. These have included: conducting over 70 interviews with stakeholders throughout the customer discovery process to validate our model and assess conceptions of mental health burden, coping mechanisms, and current services used. This has allowed us to work with demographically-relevant participants to garner feedback on refining development of Rose geared to our users’ needs. We have built an online crowd-sourcing survey tool to train our natural language processing (NLP) system to classify individuals into the categories of depression, anxiety, and trauma. These are simultaneously cross-validated against participant self-classification, therapist-based classification, and clinical neuropsychiatric scales like the PHQ9 and GAD7.
SIL: What are your next steps?
KM: We are launching a pilot study among graduate students to both assess the usability of the Rose application and evaluate the short-term impact on mood and anxiety of using the Rose application to augment in-person psychotherapy. Pending IRB approval, this is scheduled for completion in June 2019. Additionally, we will begin the process for an angel fundraising round in July and use the funds to expand our team and refine our product.
SIL: What has been the most positive part about being a purpose-driven company?
KM: The feedback. People reach out to you and share their experiences. I was really blown away by the number of people who reached out to me, friends especially, and opened up about their mental-health challenges. This was essential in shaping the Rose model.
SIL: What has been your greatest takeaway from SIL?
KM: There are many but the greatest takeaway is SIL’s focus on the customer discovery process. SIL stressed that it’s extremely important to interview all stakeholders of your product to ensure that the problem you’re focused on is a problem that needs to be solved, and then work with those stakeholders as you build your platform. As a purpose-driven company, we learned to make certain that our business is helping distressed communities and we’re taking the appropriate steps to solve the problem. This goes back to customer discovery and understanding the problem before you can actually come up with a solution.
SIL: How can we get involved?
KM: Great question! We are looking for folks to join the team and become part of Rose. Additionally, we are looking for investors interested in participating in our upcoming angel investment round. If you’re passionate about making a difference in mental health and want to get involved, please email me at kavi[at]askrose.com.